"Three Parts Dead" - Book Review

I occasionally do a search for "best science fiction 2014" or whatever last year was, and then read a bunch of reviews. The most intriguing to me - although not the most mentioned - was Max Gladstone's Craft series - the review was of the third book. I started with the first, Three Parts Dead. I liked the idea of the technical side of religion, and the world-building.

Our main character is Tara Abernathy, a recent graduate of the Hidden Schools ... although immediately after her graduation she was, shall we say, let go by the school. Over a three mile drop. Her rather debilitated state upon landing is where we start the book. I enjoyed him just hurling concepts and pieces of his world at the reader, leaving you to file it and figure it out later. The last fantasy I read (other than the stack of Pratchett, some of which I've read before) was Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series with it's plodding and tediously careful exposition so you always understand what's going on - unless of course he's pretending something is a "mystery." Sanderson treats his readers as slightly dumb, to be led by the nose: Gladstone figures you have the brains to keep up. And, more importantly, he writes well and makes it worth your while.

Tara practises "The Craft," which can be viewed as either magic, or the power of the gods (although on a more human scale). And she's hired by a Craft firm, despite her problematic graduation, to help find out why the god Kos Everburning has died. In her world, gods have contracts with other gods and organisations, and their power is drawn and then returned with interest. But Kos was overdrawn and died. But his church kept meticulous records of power in and out and ... well, you get the idea. Although I'm painting it as if a god is just a battery, but they're much more than that: they're incredibly powerful intelligent entities as well.

I enjoyed it most in the first third of the book as I was trying to wrap my head around the world, absorbing all it's aspects. There was still lots to learn in the last two thirds, but perhaps not quite as good? The ending was satisfying (even if I did see one of the resurrections coming). I'll be moving on to the next book in the series fairly soon.

Follow-on: a review of the second book.